02 July 2015 - On 30 June, FAO organized a Webinar on rabies prevention and control tools in Asia, the first of a series of two webinars dedicated to rabies. The webinar was attended by 57 participants from different parts of the world, mostly Asia.
Rabies causes tens of thousands of human deaths every year disproportionately affecting rural communities from economically disadvantaged areas of Africa and Asia. The appropriate tools for the elimination of the disease already exist making the global elimination of dog-mediated human rabies feasible. Despite all, there are still many challenges for implementing rabies elimination programmes, especially in developing countries.
In order to improve knowledge on rabies prevention and control, this webinar was organized under the framework of LinkTADs, a research consortium funded under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), which aims to coordinate research on animal disease control (i.e. epidemiology and laboratory diagnostics) between partners in the European Union (EU) and China. The webinar was organized with the technical assistance of EuFMD.
The webinar started with a presentation given by Bernadette Abela-Ridder from WHO making the case of rabies for global elimination. This part highlighted the burden of rabies for poor and rural local communities, the need to vaccinate dogs to protect people, increasing awareness on dog bite prevention, immediate first aid for bite wounds and post-bite treatment when appropriate. The presentation also focused on the role of surveillance so that data/evidence informs monitoring and evaluation but also better programmatic planning and dog and human vaccine procurement forecasts. WHO emphasized its role in facilitating the interaction between human and animal health sectors, finding mechanisms to stimulate countries in their elimination efforts for example via bulk procurement of quality vaccines, and in raising awareness and investment towards combat rabies elimination.
The second presentation on Rabies blueprint was given by Louis Nel from the Global Alliance for Rabies Control stressed the role of GARC in raising awareness on this neglected disease, especially with the creation of World Rabies Day in 2007, as well as the importance of communication and how to engage with the local community in controlling the disease. GARC is also involved in different initiatives for advocacy to policy makers in order to mobilize resources considering that rabies control program is mostly underfunded. The Rabies blueprint was also introduced and described as a tool that has inspired veterinarians in developing their control plan and strategies.
FAO presentation, given by Katinka de Balogh focused on developing a stepwise approach for rabies control, describing all the six stages required to move from an endemic situation to freedom of the disease. FAO is proving guidance and support to countries in order to embark on rabies elimination.
The fourth presentation given by Gregorio Torres from the OIE, focused on OIE international standards which included provisions for disease surveillance and notification, recommendations for international trade, stray dog population control and rabies diagnosis and vaccination. During his presentation he emphasised the role of the Tripartite (WHO, FAO and OIE) in the global elimination of dog-mediated human rabies following the One Health approach. He briefly introduced the concept of OIE vaccine bank as vaccine procurement mechanism that has been successfully used by many countries. Participants were invited to consult the OIE website for further information on international standards and OIE activities.
The last presentation, given by Eric Brum from FAO Bangladesh, described the principles and practices for rapid rabies control, highlighting the challenges faced by veterinarians in identifying incubating animals, and the field experience in implementing vaccination as an important element for reducing transmissibility, contact rate and the duration of infection to maximize the results of rabies prevention and control. The presentation also stressed the importance of vaccinating puppies, and the role of community support to increase vaccination efficiency.
Presentations were followed by a series of questions from participants and answers from the panel members, mostly focusing on the practicability of vaccination, expected vaccination coverage and requirements during imports.
The webinar lasted 1.50 hrs and is recorded for viewing HERE and presentations can be downloaded HERE .